Hot Air is reporting that the United States Supreme Court has cleared the way for a #corruption trial for Sen. Robert #Menendez, D-New Jersey. Menendez is accused of accepting campaign contributions and gifts from a friend named Salomon Melgen in exchange for interceding on his behalf, including an $8.9 million Medicare funding dispute. The trial is slated to start this fall.
The trouble that Menendez finds himself in opens up a number of possibilities since he is up for reelection in 2018. Even in New Jersey, a state famous for its tolerance of corruption, being on trial for accepting bribes for what the #Senator slyly called “constituent services” can be career ending. The question arises, will Menendez or will be pushed out.
If the senator resigns his seat, Republican Gov. Chris Christie will choose his replacement, doubtless a Republican. In that scenario, the GOP majority in the Senate would be padded slightly, which would be of some use in the fights over repeal and replace of Obamacare and upcoming struggles over tax reform. A Republican appointed senator will have an incumbency advantage for 2018 if he or she decides to run for a full term.
Menendez could choose to try to stay in the Senate, the theory being that a resignation is practically an admission of guilt. He could promise not to run for reelection, opening up his seat for other Democrats, or even try to really brazen it out and try to run again even in the midst of a trial. The scenario becomes interesting if Menendez is found guilty. If he finds himself on his way to prison, he will either have to resign anyway or face automatic expulsion.
Betting among political insiders is that Democratic Party leaders will apply pressure for Menendez to resign sooner rather than later as the least bad alternative. A reelection campaign in the middle of a corruption trial might taint other Democrats and complicate that party’s efforts to stave off a midterm bloodbath. With Menendez out of the way, other Democrats would be able to campaign for the Senate seat even if, possibly temporarily, it is occupied by a Christie-appointed Republican.